Repair Cafes are volunteer-led workshops where people can learn to repair broken goods under the supervision of an experienced repair person.

Repair Cafes are organised meeting places where people can bring their broken goods, such as electronic appliances, bicycles and clothes, and learn to repair them alongside an experienced repairer. The organisers supply a range of materials and tools needed to carry out the repairs, and it is estimated that around 70% of repairs are successful. Repairs are usually carried out free of charge, and visitors can choose to make a donation based on their ability to, and this helps organisers to cover costs of materials and refreshments.

Repair Cafes also collect repairs data using a software called RepairMonitor. All visitors to the cafes register their repairs with the organisers, and then the skilled volunteers make notes about the nature of the object, the problem, whether it was fixed, and how they fixed it.  If an object could not be fixed, the volunteer notes why not. RepairMonitor collects data from Repair Cafes around the world, which can be used to make recommendations to manufacturers, regulators and consumers about which consumer goods break most often and how that can be avoided. In 2017, they found that the most repaired items were bicycles, followed closely by coffee machines, and vacuum cleaners.

There are already over 1,800 Repair Cafes operating worldwide. In 2017 alone, more than 21,000 volunteers helped 50,000 visitors each month. Ultimately, by carrying out repairs on almost 430,000 objects, repair cafes successfully saved almost 300,000 items from being thrown away.

Why you should care

Design issues and poor quality parts can make it difficult or inconvenient to repair goods; in fact, it is often cheaper and easier to replace them. The result is vast waste streams in industries including electronics and textiles. In 2016 alone, the EU generated 44.7 million tonnes of e-waste for example. Repair Cafes are helping to prevent waste by providing people with the skills and tools to breathe new life into old goods, and fostering a culture of repairing rather than replacement.

How the Global Goals are addressed

Responsible consumption and production

Repair Cafes prevent waste generation by encouraging people to repair goods rather than replacing them. In 2017 alone, they rescued almost 300,000 objects worldwide.